Designing a cooling plate for the battery of an electric car or a computer in 5 minutes? This is possible on the Diabatix platform. The Belgian company is a global pioneer in its sector. For the development of the platform, Diabatix joined forces with CactusSoft.
“They have succeeded in translating very complex technology into a user-friendly platform in record time,” said Roxane Van Mellaert, Head of Product & Operations at Diabatix. “We had an extremely tight deadline, but we met it.”
Diabatix has developed software that automatically generates the optimal shape of cooling components and cooling plates. Take an electric car for example. The battery of that car must be cooled to remain operational and performing. This cooling is also crucial for the lifespan. In the traditional way of working, an engineer then manually draws out the design for that cooling plate. He puzzles together a design based on his own experiences and insights. Then follows a long, iterative process of adjustment after adjustment to get the final design for the heatsink completely right.
Diabatix automates that classic, manual process. With the company’s software, the engineer enters the geometry, a number of parameters, and at the touch of a button a supercomputer draws the ideal design that meets all specified requirements. The engineer can download the design and get to work. The software works wherever cooling is important: from LED lighting and computers to batteries and motors of electric vehicles.
Configuring the Ideal Design
Two years ago, Diabatix took the step to make their software available to the customer. It used to be a service company. The software was already there, but the Diabatix team only used it in-house to solve the customers’ problems themselves.
In the end, the team saw that they had something unique and innovative on their hands, and it would be a shame to limit that technology to internal use.
“We were ready to switch from a service company to a software provider. We wanted to give the customers the opportunity to work with that software themselves, instead of us doing it for them in the background. To make that software accessible, we had to build an interface between our customers and our software. We needed a web platform where they could design their own heat sinks in a few simple steps”, says Roxane Van Mellaert.
Meeting the Tight Deadline
In the search for a partner to build that platform, Diabatix ended up at CactusSoft. The fact that their developers work from Spain and Eastern Europe was no barrier to the company. Diabatix’ own team is very international, as are the company’s customers. But the Belgian anchoring of CactusSoft was an important asset. It is a Belgian company. For Diabatix, that was a guarantee of smooth communication as the team knew who to turn to close home.
“Choosing a partner is always difficult. You can assess them as best as possible in advance, but you only really know what you have in the tub once the collaboration has begun. We started working with CactusSoft at the end of 2020, with the intention to launch the platform in April 2021. That timing was tight. Very tight. In the end, we managed to meet our deadline and launch the platform at a customer event as planned.”
As the deadline approached and things got really tight, the Belgian management of CactusSoft managed to push the team – which had already worked hard – up a gear. They reassured Diabatix that their team would make it to the launch date and not be left empty-handed in front of the customers. And they kept their word.
Pioneer Role as an Extra Challenge
According to Van Mellaert, Diabatix and CactusSoft were able to develop the platform exceptionally quickly. That was not obvious, because what Diabatix does is quite complex and abstract if you are not an engineer yourself. Still, CactusSoft quickly understood what Diabatix needed and was able to bridge the gap between the software and the customers.
“You cannot expect a developer to understand in detail how a heatsink works, so it was also my responsibility to provide clear briefings,” says Van Mellaert. “Together with a consultant from Nead who has both the insights from the engineering side and the web development side, we have succeeded in making the right translation.”
Diabatix creates the only software in thermal applications that generates the optimal design fully automatically. That pioneering role made the project extra challenging. The developers couldn’t even look over the wall, because they were the first to build such a platform and make it so easy for users.
That user-friendliness is the platform’s greatest asset. It was also probably the biggest challenge in developing it. The complexity is mainly under the hood, the complicated processes run in the background. The development team was able to keep the settings that the user has to enter himself to a minimum. The whole set-up takes less than 5 minutes.
Becoming Real Colleagues
The collaboration with the CactusSoft team went smoothly from the start, emphasizes Van Mellaert. “We had weekly meetings. CactusSoft had put together a team with a frontend developer, backend developer, designer, … The project manager was our first point of contact. That worked perfectly.”
Diabatix created a Slack channel for daily communication, and both teams met via Google Meet. At Diabatix, everyone speaks English, and there is always someone who can translate if someone doesn’t understand something. Roxane Van Mellaert can’t imagine that in the digital age, she and her team would work together differently or better with a team based in Antwerp or Ghent.
A year after the first version of the platform, Diabatix launched a second version. The collaboration between Diabatix and CactusSoft continues. Every month Diabatix releases a new version with new features. The lines are even shorter. The project manager has taken a break, and Diabatix is working directly with the developers.
“After almost two years, the CactusSoft people have become real colleagues for me. Even though I’ve never met them in real life.”
There were plans for that, but the situation in Eastern Europe suddenly made it all a lot more complex. So it hasn’t happened yet. But that doesn’t stand in the way of a good relationship. Cracking a bottle of champagne to celebrate a launch is, of course, more fun without a screen in between. But with a bit of good will, it can also be done from a distance.
If you have a tech idea or a digital challenge we can help you with, contact us at [email protected] or discover what nearshoring and CactusSoft can do for you.
The article first appeared at Bloovi.be on November 14, 2022. Read the Dutch version here.